Mu Alpha Theta has had a busy month. On Saturday, November 9th we hosted our tournament that included 330 students from 21 schools. We had approximately 60 of our club members contribute to the tournament either with preparing materials ahead of time, setting up testing locations, running competitions, or presenting awards. We will be making a $500 contribution to the Food Bank with part of the proceeds from the tournament. Read about the Middle School team's results here.
In addition, on Saturday, November 16th we placed 2nd overall at the Ben Franklin Mu Alpha Theta tournament in New Orleans. Results of that tournament are below.
1st Joie Lee
2nd Lauren McGrath
1st Justin Dynes
2nd Arya Patel
Honorable Mention Gregory Field
1st Algebra 2 Math Bowl – Thomas O’Connor, Akshay Basireddy, Sacha Dernoncourt, and Scott McAdams
1st Pre-Calculus Math Bowl – Eugene Jiang, Joy Lee, and Aadit Narayanan
2nd Calculus Math Bowl – Matthew Bickham, Gregory Field, Ryan Field, and Justin Dynes
2nd Geometry Team – Joie Lee and Ayush Patel
3rd Algebra 2 Team – Analise Hyde, Ella Harper, and Joey Roth
1st Calculus Team – Elaine Gboloo, Adam Reid, and Shuhei Niwano
Joan Moroney began teaching in 2007. She has taught Honors Geometry, Algebra II, and Honors Algebra II at Episcopal and is a co-sponsor of the Mu Alpha Theta math competition team. Before coming to Episcopal in 2014, Joan taught high school credit math courses to gifted students at Glasgow Middle School in Baton Rouge. She has a Bachelor of Science in secondary mathematics education from North Carolina State University and a master’s degree in education from Louisiana State University in gifted education.
When Newsweek released its list of the Top 500 STEM High Schools in America last week, one school in the Baton Rouge region was in the top 500 – Episcopal School of Baton Rouge. The school was ranked the number one STEM high school in Baton Rouge. Episcopal also ranks seventh in the state of Louisiana and 448th nationally.
Many people know Episcopal for its rigorous academic offerings, its abundant arts programs, the opportunities provided to compete as part of a sports team or the range of character development and service learning activities. Now the school has earned national recognition for its science, technology, engineering and math offerings. For Episcopal Dean of Academics Dr. Sara Fenske, earning a spot in the top 500 is a testament to the school’s whole child philosophy of education.
STEM Starts Early
Dr. Fenske says Episcopal’s STEM efforts begin well before students enter Upper School. “Our Lower and Middle School efforts feed into what happens in Upper School,” she says. She points to successful programs such as Girls Who Code, Fab Shop and Maker Space. Even the littlest Knights have the opportunity for STEM learning as they work with technology such as Bee Bots, Bloxels and Root robots. “These programs help to make STEM more accessible to students,” says Dr. Fenske. She says the Lower and Middle School offerings make STEM learning fun and attract more students to the field. Hopefully, such experiences will inspire students to continue pursuing their interest in STEM throughout their educational journey.
Personalized Learning Encourages Exploration
Dr. Fenske says Episcopal’s personalized approach to learning also creates a STEM-friendly learning environment. “Students who are ready can accelerate in math and science in Middle School to ensure that they are challenged appropriately,” she says. At the same time, other students who are not yet ready to accelerate in Middle School have a range of challenging courses from which to choose. This allows all students the opportunity to explore a variety of STEM topics and see success in those courses. They then have opportunities to take college-level courses such as AP Calculus BC, AP Physics, AP Environmental Science, and AP Computer Science, as well as a selection of post-AP courses.
There is a balance to providing a variety of courses which appeal to a broad audience of students. When you get this balance right, students are able to excel in numerous areas because of the encouragement and support they receive. This explains why at Episcopal a student can perform with the Upper School select choir, be a member of the swim team and take advanced math and science courses all in the same school year.
ESTAAR and More
“Any mention of Episcopal and STEM must include a mention of the ESTAAR program,” says Dr. Fenske. “We are placing high school students into university labs to do independent research. It doesn’t get more authentically STEM than that.” ESTAAR or Episcopal Students Take Action in Advanced Research began during the 2012/2013 school year. Interested students are partnered with a university professor and have the opportunity for hands-on lab work. Dr. Fenske says ESTAAR students are not necessarily the “math and science” type. They are students who self-select the course because of a love of STEM. In addition to ESTAAR, Episcopal also offers students extracurricular STEM opportunities such as Mu Alpha Theta in Upper School and Math Counts in Middle School. (Last weekend, the Middle School team took third place in the high school tournament! Read more from James Moroney here.) Both competitive math programs attract a range of students from cheerleaders and soloists to athletes and actors. The Episcopal Fab Shop also provides hands-on STEM learning experiences which appeal to a range of students.
Episcopal continues to find ways to support STEM learning. In 2018, school leaders celebrated the opening of the 27,000 square foot Academic Commons, a building that now serves as the hub for Upper School math and science. Work is now underway on the 14,700 square foot Quest Center which will serve as a center for experiential-based learning and exploration for Lower and Middle School students.
The most recent data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics shows nearly 8.6 million STEM jobs, with computer occupations accounting for nearly 45 percent. According to Newsweek, “The STEM skills that only specialists have today will be expected of virtually everyone in the American workforce tomorrow.” It’s good to know that Episcopal is on the forefront of preparing tomorrow’s leaders for these fields of the future, while at the same time providing an array of creative, athletic and spiritual opportunities.
To read more about Episcopal STEM opportunities, click on the links below.
Not Just for Engineers: Four Real World Skills Coding Cultivates
From Bots to Binary Messages: A Look at Computer Science at Episcopal
Budding Scientists: Science Education in Early Childhood
Raising Tomorrow’s Critical Thinkers Today
Why Can’t We Just Send Them Water? Science Lesson Elicits Thoughtful Response
On November 9th, 21 Middle School students competed in our Mu Alpha Theta Tournament at Episcopal. We competed in Division 1 against nearly 200 students from around Louisiana, including Catholic High School and Baton Rouge High School.
Our team finished third in sweepstakes in the entire Division 1, which is incredible considering we only competed with our Middle School students and our high school students didn’t compete at all. Congratulations to our students for a great showing. The results are below.
Nate McLean (5th grader) - Third Place
Harrison Willett - Second Place
Blaise Richard - 3rd place
Luke Stelly - 2nd place
Cameron Augustine - 1st place
Hayden Willett - Honorable Mention
Hayden Singh - Honorable Mention
Joie Lee - 2nd place
Ivy Jiang - Honorable Mention
Joey Roth - Honorable Mention
James Moroney is a versatile teacher having taught English and math in addition to coaching volleyball and soccer. Most recently, he taught sixth grade math, Algebra I Honors and Geometry Honors at Our Lady of Mercy in Baton Rouge. James was named the Our Lady of Mercy Teacher of the Year for the 2015/2016 school year and received the Christian Life Award in 2017. He has served as a MATHCOUNTS team coach, the Junior Beta Club head sponsor and the Youth Legislature co-sponsor. James earned his Bachelor of Arts degree from Louisiana State University in English with a concentration in secondary education. He is the author of Challenging Common Core Math Lessons: Grade 6.
According to research from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, “the higher the level of education, the lower the unemployment rate.” Higher levels of education also mean higher earning potential over a lifetime. As a college preparatory school, 100 percent of Episcopal seniors earn admission into a university, with many attending highly selective institutions. Episcopal students are assisted by three full-time college counselors who help them through the entire college admissions journey. This journey can be intense, and it may have parents and students wondering, is there a secret formula for getting accepted into the right university? College Counseling Director Justin Fenske shares the top five qualities that colleges are looking for in an applicant. Keep in mind that these qualities can change depending on the student and the school.
1. Academic Success
When it comes to taking that next step in the educational journey, being able to show that you’ve done well in your high school courses is important. A strong transcript showing academic success and growth is a good indicator to a college admissions officer that the student understands the subject matter and is ready for more advanced college-level course work.
2. Challenging Courses
Students should also be mindful of the courses they choose. Fenske advises students to take courses that show a preference for challenging subject matter while also allowing them to be academically successful. He says students should not simply enroll in a higher-level course to pad their transcript.
3. Extracurricular Passion
You have the right grades in all the right courses, now what? Fenske says colleges want to see a commitment to an extracurricular activity. However, this does not mean the student should participate in every activity offered. Fenske says a deep involvement in a few activities is meaningful on an application. He says students can explore numerous possibilities while still in Middle School and by the time they are a sophomore or junior in Upper School they can devote more time to activities they particularly enjoy. Being able to show a progression in involvement over the years is also a plus. For example, a student may start out helping backstage in a theater production and eventually mature to be a leader in the theater department.
4. Required Test Scores
Yes, testing is certainly still a factor in college admissions. Luckily, Episcopal has a robust testing preparation program. Counselors help students understand the types of test questions, how to study and how to efficiently manage the allotted test time. There are even test boot camps that simulate the testing environment. Students take practice tests and have the opportunity to discuss errors with teachers before taking the actual exam. This sort of test prep is garnering impressive results. Students are earning National Merit recognition for their performance on the PSAT. Student scores are also translating into college admissions and scholarship dollars.
5. Tell Your Story
Fenske says students need to tell their story in their college application, and that story needs to make them stand out among the crowd of other applicants. He advises students to do something interesting that garners recognition beyond school. For example, thousands of students attend a sports or theater camp each year. A unique story would be to create your own camp or serve as a leader at an existing camp. Fenske has also helped students tell the story of juggling a full-time job or extensive personal obligations while maintaining a strong GPA and a commitment to school life. A unique story goes a long way in helping a student garner the attention to earn admission.
The college admissions journey can be exciting and overwhelming all at the same time. Episcopal’s college counseling program is serving students well, with 100 percent of seniors earning acceptance into college, including many highly selective institutions. Fenske says ultimately the counselors want to help students find the best match based on their individual goals and projected career path. Finding that right fit and moving on to the next step in life is extremely rewarding for students, families and even the counselors who have assisted along the way. As the Class of 2020 begins to announce their college decisions it will be exciting to see where the journey takes them. Look for college announcements coming soon and please join us in congratulating these students on completing this important milestone.
Meet the Episcopal College Counselors
Have questions for our College Counselors? Leave a comment or ask a question below.
What does it mean to be an Episcopal athlete? We asked Episcopal senior athletes to share more about their experience.
“Athletes at Episcopal must learn to have mental stamina, being able to truly balance academics with sports, pushing themselves in multiple areas of their lives to be the best they can be, sometimes exhausting but always fulfilling,” says swimmer Sara Be.
“The thing I most enjoy about being an Episcopal athlete is the community that comes from being on a team,” says swimmer Nick Johannessen. “It has always been good to know that I had friends across all grades due to the friendships I made through the swim team.”
“The aspect that I enjoy most about being an Episcopal athlete is the comradery that comes from being a part of a team,” says runner James Christian. “Every day, the team creates an atmosphere that is different than any other. You are surrounded by people who go through many of the same difficulties as you. When you are around these people, you can relax and just be free with others who understand if you are having a tough time.”
Academics are important for all three of these athletes. “Coach reminds us that academics are more important than athletics,” says James. “Coach Dupe teaches us every year of what he believes to be the priorities in life: First is God, second is Family, third is school/work, fourth is sports/extracurricular activities and last is social. To him, academics should be above cross country. This is what helps me juggle the two. I realize I need to prioritize school.”
Academics are equally important for Sara and Nick who are National Merit Semifinalists. Nick says while it is challenging to juggle the rigorous academic program at Episcopal while competing, it’s not impossible. “I learned to be more efficient with my time and listen to my body,” he says. “I also made sure to use my study halls and office hours to their maximum potential, meeting with teachers, and doing homework during these times. Staying ahead on homework helps minimize some of the stress caused by the time crunch of practice and schoolwork.”
Episcopal truly does provide students the opportunity to explore a diverse array of interests. “Being an athlete at Episcopal is not a label, it does not limit any individual,” says Sara. “The swim team has three students participating in drum corps, attending morning swim practice and nighttime football games on Fridays. The football team this year includes three boys who race to select choir after practice on Mondays. This diversity of talent and character within the athletics department is priceless; sports teams gather a spectrum of types of students, forming seemingly unlikely connections and relationships that end up possessing enormous value.”
Students gain a range of important life skills from their participation in sports. “From my athletic experiences, I have learned the values of competition, leadership, teamwork, and hard work,” says Nick. “From competition with teammates in practice to actual swim meets, competitiveness is a crucial component of swimming. Teammates are always pushing each other to improve and be better at practice. Swim meets are the chance for all that hard work to shine, where you can prove to yourself and others what all that hard work has done.”
“Hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t work hard.” Coach Dupe. “This is a quote that we hear every year, and it represents one of the most important lessons I have learned from my Cross-Country experience,” says James. “It is always important to be willing to put in the hard work. No matter how good you might be at something, it is hard work and dedication that will get you the farthest in life.”
Team is Everything.
Putting together a successful team and a championship season, truly is a team effort. “As a member of relays, races made of teams of four, I have also learned the value of teamwork,” says Nick. “A relay would not work with only three people. It takes everyone on the relay to make it work. Relays are my favorite races to swim because there are other people to celebrate your team's success. It takes the hard work of all four swimmers for a relay to be successful, and it is a fantastic feeling when it works.”
“Being on a team also brings you closer to people you might not have ever known,” says James. “Those people can become some of your closest friends.”
Sara points out that even those who are not officially on the team contribute to success in meaningful ways. “To be invested and engaged with Episcopal athletics doesn’t necessarily mean enrollment in a sports team,” she says. “Positive energy radiates through the stands when students of all grades gather together to cheer on the football team. In this nature, students build networks of support, elevating the school spirit and overall quality of life at Episcopal through athletics. In other words, sports at Episcopal facilitate mutual support from students, people lifting each other up when they need it the most.”
Congratulations to all of the Episcopal athletes who are accomplishing great things in the classroom and in competition. Go Knights!
Through a collaboration with her peers, Lower School teachers, and Arts teachers, Episcopal Dance Master Seminar and Senior Thesis student Christine Myer recently got to serve as a dance teacher to 45 first graders. Christine shares that experience as well as a few of the discoveries she’s made as a dancer and researcher that has inspired her to become a vocal proponent of encouraging dance in young children.
I approach around forty-five eager first graders as they wait for my instruction. I begin to lead an age-appropriate warm-up, which precedes teaching choreography to a minute-long song--just enough to get their blood pumping. One kid had just told the room that she hates dancing, another told me he was okay with it, some kids loved it, but most of them did not appear to be beyond thrilled. While these first graders were in the middle of their “healthy selves” unit, I wanted to show them how dance is a perfect example of a healthy habit. The movements within their dance were not overly simplified, but they were not impossible either; they would require practice and motivation, but the goal, in the long run, was to create a sense of pride and confidence among the kids. At such a young age, they are not as prone to the comparison they will soon face in the world, but it is crucial that we establish this self-confidence and healthy esteem in these kids before they try to seek satisfaction from other sources.
Imagine yourself as a teenager, or even tougher-- a tweenager (in-between kid and teenager). You are awkwardly growing into who you are, forming your belief system and developing character traits. You most likely came face to face with true pressure, conflict, and unsureness for the first time during these years. Imagine life back then, but add social media and the internet to the mix. How would you have handled Instagram and Snapchat and Twitter and YouTube when you were younger? Wouldn’t it make adolescence even more complicated than it was?
We frequently hear that kids and teenagers are a vulnerable group, but why? Well, their brain development is complex. They face two major developmental tasks over the course of adolescence: forming their identity and making decisions. But both of these tasks, though, rely on brain structures that are not fully developed until after their teenage years, as described by Eugenia Ives. This means that children and teens must navigate their identity and decisions without the development and knowledge that an adult possesses. Instead, kids’ brains are forced to make quick, fight or flight decisions that are not always logical or well-thought-out, especially when it relates to an emotional issue. Therefore, teenagers have a lower capacity of self-regulation, which gives way to peer pressure and risky behaviors among the age group. Adding the fast-paced, spontaneous world of social media to this situation only complicates the teenage brain because it provides teens with an accessible place for their risky behavior. The brain produces dopamine, a feel-good chemical, during technological stimulation, so interactions on social media provoke excitement and instant gratification among users. This is what makes social media addictive. Because it feels so rewarding, it easily influences the vulnerable teenager and is capable of separating them from one another.
With this information, it is crucial that teens are aware of what holds them back, and they should know how to cope with their developing brain. The complexity of a teen’s brain development, especially with the influence of social media, can produce harmful effects including poor body image, low confidence, and overall weak self-esteem. The modern teenager needs a way to stimulate their brain in a healthy manner, in a way that combats the impact that social media has on it. Physical activity successfully does this, and dance, to be specific, has the power to boost self-esteem and help us navigate our life and identity.
When the body exercises, the brain feels stress and releases the same chemicals that are released during interactions on social media. Endorphins are our bodies’ natural pain killers, so they serve as a potent mental health and esteem booster and give exercise its addictive effect.
Here are some more reasons on how dance provides teenagers with more of the simplicity and clarity that they need:
So whenever you think back to when you were a teenager, think of how you coped with stress and compare it to today’s world. Encourage the younger generation to gain satisfaction from more reliable and healthy sources. Social media and the internet help us in our daily lives, but too much dependence on it alters our vision of reality and leads to unnecessary stress, whereas we can find a strong sense of reward and boost of esteem by merely dancing. Like one of the first graders told me after dancing, dance “makes [you] have a big, big, big, big, big smile on [your] face!”
Christine Myer is a senior who has attended Episcopal since Pre-K. She is senior class president and a member of student vestry. As an active student of campus, she is in dance ensemble and is involved in musical theater. Christine is also a writing fellow, student ambassador, and member of National Honors Society. She loves the community and opportunities Episcopal offers through programs like Thesis and the arts.
There are a variety of exciting, new courses for Episcopal students this school year. One such course is Ethics, Economics, and Cultural Impacts of Sport in the Hispanosphere. The course uses an examination of popular sports to engage students in discussions on ethics, economics and Spanish culture. Upper School Spanish teacher Sergio Ramos is happy to teach the course and provides more details on what students are learning.
The Global Studies Department saw the need to develop a cross-disciplinary curriculum that could enrich the learning experience of the 21st century student. The Ethics, Economics, and Cultural Impacts of Sport in the Hispanosphere developed from that call. This new course focuses on the rich and exciting culture of several Spanish-speaking countries through a wide variety of sports and leisure activities. The cultural and economic impacts of these industries, as well as many ethical questions related to these activities are explored. Films also have a key role in this course. Students watch at least two movies per quarter and analyze a variety of cultural aspects through class discussion.
Through this course, students are able to expand their cultural horizons by identifying the contributions of Hispanic athletes in the world. In other words, this subject encourages the students to deepen their understanding of the rich culture of Hispanic countries through sports while targeting its economic and social impact in a global society. Class work includes individual and group projects. In addition, students have the opportunity for hands-on experiences involving these activities.
Ethics, Economics, and Cultural Impacts of Sport in the Hispanosphere is taught in English and is open to all students. The course would be particularly interesting for any student with a passion for sports in general but especially any student who wants to expand their global citizenship and critical thinking skills through a deeper study and understanding of the role of sports in the Hispanic world and in society in general.
Discussions that Expand Cultural Horizons
In this class, we discuss the different philosophies of the biggest soccer teams in Spain. For instance, we learn about La Masía (F.C. Barcelona’s training facility) and the values that the young players from all over the world acquire if they are talented enough to be part of F.C. Barcelona. These values (sportsmanship, leadership, commitment, perseverance, etc.) make people refer to F.C. Barcelona as Más que un club (More than a club).
We discuss ethical matters such as whether players under the age of sixteen from other parts of the world should join powerful soccer teams from Europe. FIFA (French for International Federation of Association Football) prohibits this practice to protect kids from leaving their families so prematurely. However, FIFA does not take into consideration the fact that in many cases the parents are willing to move to Europe to realize their child’s dream of playing the sport.
We also discuss the legacy of golfer Severiano Ballesteros in Spain, not only in terms of the sport of golf but in terms of economic impact in the second most visited country in the world. Before Seve, golf was very unpopular in Spain. After his great accomplishments (two Masters championships among other majors) the Spanish golf industry developed in such a way that it is now part of the 13-billion-euro industry in Europe. I believe that, without the role of Seve in Spain’s golf and in golf worldwide, we would not recognize José María Olazábal, Sergio García and many other great Spanish golf players nowadays.
What I like the most about this class is that the students are given the chance to be more active in their participation and involvement in class compared with more traditional class environments. In fact, there are no tests or exams. This is because the students are graded based on the presentations, projects, and discussions that take place in the classroom. Furthermore, students’ suggestions are addressed, provided that they are feasible. For instance, while discussing the legacy of golfer Severiano Ballesteros, the students suggested going to TopGolf. I thought that this was a great idea that would exemplify along with the hands-on experiences mentioned in the course description.
Sergio Ramos was born and raised in the Canary Islands, Spain and is a native Spanish speaker. He graduated from the University of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, Spain, with a bachelor's in English philology (this field is mainly focused on the teaching of English as a second language in Spain). He also has a master's degree in education awarded by the Complutense University of Madrid, Spain. He has experience teaching in the Spanish public school system and has been teaching Spanish at Episcopal High School since 2005. He has taught almost every level in the Middle and Upper School.
It was a fun-filled week on Episcopal’s campus as students celebrated Homecoming. All three divisions displayed school spirit with theme dress days, pep rallies and campus decorating. Everything culminated with the Knights' Homecoming victory over Catholic Pointe Coupee. Congratulations to the 2019 Episcopal Homecoming King and Queen - Griff Strain and Sarah Collier!
Alumni also got in on the celebration with a Cochon De Lait in the alumni tent. We hope the classes of 1979 and 1989 enjoyed their time back on campus.
Congratulations to the 2019 Episcopal Homecoming Court!
Top Row: Griff Strain, Sara Be, Tochi Mbagwu, Maia Adams, Logan LeBlanc, Landry Litel, Annslee Bourgeois, Kolin Bilbrew
Bottom Row: Thomas Lee, Sarah Collier, Andrew Clark, Chloe Carmouche, Robert Xing, Rachel Nichols, Lewis Ward, Grace Alexander, James Be, Anna Katherine Harrell
Mark your calendar now for the Homecoming game next Friday, October 4th at 7 pm. The Knights take on Catholic of Pointe Coupee. Check out the remaining football schedule here. Go Knights!
Calling All Episcopal Alumni!
Homecoming is a special time for alumni. Don’t miss out on the following activities.
Alumni tent featuring a Cochon De Lait
Look for the tent on the track near the north end zone.
Game time is set for 7 pm.
Wear your Episcopal gear and show your school spirit!
Welcome back to the classes of 1979 and 1989! We hope you have a great reunion weekend.
On September 21st, 39 Middle and Upper School students competed in the St. Paul’s math tournament in Covington. Nineteen schools and 336 students competed. Episcopal placed 1st overall in Division 2!
Individual Test Results:
2nd – Luke Stelly
Honorable Mention – Joie Lee
2nd – Akshay Basireddy
Honorable Mention – Autumn Reynolds, Sacha Dernoncourt
1st – Joy Lee
Honorable Mention – Eugene Jiang, Anna Katherine Whaley
1st - Abhay Basireddy
2nd – Arya Patel
3rd – KC Shimada
Honorable Mention – Justin Dynes, Shuhei Niwano, Gregory Field
Team Test Results:
Algebra I - 3rd – Ayush Patel , Ahebwa Muhumuza, Hayden Willett, and Joie Lee
Geometry - 1st – Joey Roth, Akshay Basireddy, Sacha Dernoncourt, Thomas O’Connor
Comp. Math II - 1st – Katie Knight, Shuhei Niwano, Arya Patel
Calculus - 3rd – Adam Reid, Gautam Mahes, Elaine Gboloo
Algebra 2 Ciphering - 2nd – Joy Lee, Anna Katherine Whaley, Aadit Narayanan, Eugene Jiang
Pre Calc Ciphering - 2nd – Justin Dynes, Abhay Basireddy, KC Shimada, Gregory Field
1st Place – Middle School Interschool
1st Place – Upper School Interschool